Chapter 3: Epilogue: If You Thought It Was Tough Being Grounded By Charlie, You Never Met Esme

All belongs to Stephenie Meyer. I'm just messing with her peeps.

Edward's pov:

The toughest part of being vampires was, always, coming up with the cover story. This time, we had a great one, and we didn't even put it about ourselves. It kinda evolved naturally when a nosey townswoman, by the name of Stanley, accidentally discovered the collapsed Swan house before we had a chance to incinerate the evidence.

Incidentally, I never have received an explanation as to why everyone didn't simply come in the Swans' front door.

Back to the story. Mrs Bigears had discovered my siblings picking through the rubble and had bee-lined for The Pixie, said little one being the individual pegged as most likely to dish to the town gossip. My siblings congregated, and invented the story on their feet. And it was a dilly of a story. I was proud of them.

It quickly spread through two states (Washington and Montana) that some manner of sink hole had swallowed the unstable house. Mrs Stanley's grapevine was first class.

Charlie and Bella, it was reported, had luckily been upstairs at the time and had been found by me and my brothers in the top layer of debris. The fortunate-to-be-alive pair were, however, badly injured and had been flown to the Mayo clinic in Florida.

The town's neighbourliness kicked into overdrive. As my new family burned its way into immortality, we had people going out of their way to do nice things for us. It let us off the hook for doing unpleasant chores.

The Webers' church sent over a steady supply of people food, not that it was any use, but it was kindly meant by the parishioners. We froze the food and decided to find a place to donate it before leaving town.

Constable Mark was elevated meteorically to the position of Police Chief, so law and order trudged along uncontested.

Local workmen were glad to don their hard hats, bring heavy equipment and dig through the rubble for salvageable possessions. As Bella had told us precisely where items like photo albums, papers, wallets and keys were kept, it was not long before we had some important items to restore to Bella and Charlie.

So things were going remarkably well. My siblings were able to go about their normal weekend business, and I was able to babysit Bella and Charlie, who were remarkably stoic patients. They both fell into the serious stage of the burning on Saturday afternoon. Conversation ceased as they submitted to the pain, and things were moving along rapidly, probably because the pain was welcome, as an instrument of change. I was happy as a clam. The only fly in the ointment was Esme.

Mother Cullen was still in a foul mood. She was under the impression that a lot of important people were missing out on a very posh wedding, and that the entire group of Cullens would have to move house much sooner than anticipated. She was also of the opinion, that having been thinking with the wrong head, I was very lucky to have an extremely accommodating spouse.

The sympathy for Bella, however, did not translate into any mercy for us. Esme was still banging on, every five minutes, about grounding us as soon as inhumanly possible. Things could have gone horribly wrong, she maintained, and I was not to be forgiven just because they hadn't.

When Carlisle protested, he was reminded succinctly that the last time I had stepped outside the parameters set by our beloved leader, 741 humans had bitten the biscuit. And Carlisle had accepted me back like the Prodigal, with no consequence for my rebellious behaviour. So this time, Esme vowed, her red-eyed son was going to be made accountable.

I had received my ass-kicking. It was delivered in front of the entire family so I could not resist. And I dreaded what would happen when Esme tried it out on Bella. It was likely to be an unnerving experience.

On Sunday afternoon, Charlie zipped through the gate to immortality with aplomb. My brothers took him hunting, and he took a shine to Jasper. They were both interested in guns, troop discipline, service to their country and hunting. They were destined to be best friends.

It was weird seeing Charlie with the bright red eyes. Almost as weird as seeing my own burgundy ones in the mirror. I didn't like it. I didn't look like myself. I was apprehensive. Would I frighten Bella when she saw me?

My parents and my sisters were sitting with me when the new, improved Bella woke up on Sunday evening. I only had time to say, "Hello, Beautiful" before I was pinioned beneath her with her tongue down my throat. Mr. Ed was overjoyed. However, Esme chose this inopportune moment to remind Bella that we were grounded and there would be 'none of that'. Why? Because she said so.

To say Bella was unimpressed would be a massive understatement. Esme's head was lying out on the back lawn before the rest of us were able to wrestle Bella into submission. Carlisle quickly reassembled his spouse, muttered that Bella would be taking over his job if he weren't careful, and took Esme to recover in bed.

The disruption to Mother's vocal cords, which rendered her temporarily unable to rant, was a blessing. My mate was so smart. And our compassionate leader declared that everybody should stay the hell out of the way of Bella's mercurial temper, and let me handle her. Which I did. Enthusiastically. You might say I threw my whole self into the job. Being a Newborn Wrangler was fun. I don't know why Jazz hadn't liked doing it.

Being an invalid, unable to move, while being brought tales of Charlie and Bella's first accomplishments, softened Esme's attitude. Bella apologized contritely for her fit of rage, and Esme conceded that provoking a horny newborn might have been unwise. Mother decided that we had learned our lesson and released us from our grounding.

The truth was, however, that nobody could handle Bella but me. She was a very demanding, opinionated newborn. Who woulda thunk? But all I had to do was mention a little alone time, and Bella's preoccupation would go straight out the window. She'd instantly forget whatever she was scrapping about. Mr. Ed was in heaven. It was a win-win situation, and it was fortunate I could control my mate, since she manifested the ability to temporarily short-circuit other vampires' abilities.

Carlisle declared that since everything was going so swimmingly, we would stay in Forks for a few more years as was the original plan. The family rejoiced. Cloudy weather for three more years. Heavenly.

We were married four days after Bella's rebirth. We got a license off the internet, and Emmett read the vows. He did a surprisingly good job, knowing his head would be the next to lie in the dirt if he failed to behave himself. The idiot-head was petrified of Bella ever since he had lost the arm-wrestling match that he suggested in order to test her strength.

Mercifully, Emmett's arm had been recovered out in the rainforest three days after the match.

Six months after the change, Bella's talent was put to effective use. I say effective, not necessarily good. Aro of the Volturi had seen fit to send Jane and Demetri to check up on Bella. Admiration of my red eyes did not dissuade Jane from demonstrating her appallingly bad manners. As per usual, the nasty female deemed the visit a good opportunity to use her talent on me. Bella objected. Vehemently. By the time we caught up with my mate, she was holding a match over Jane and Demetri's shredded remains.

Bella had finally put the chipper-shredder to use. I made a mental note to have it relocated forthwith, so that Bella could not use it on an unsuspecting family member.

Right in the middle of my family's attempt to wrestle control of the matches from Bella's terrifying, murderous clutches, I stepped up and whispered an invitation to the bedroom in her ear. My wife demurely handed the matches to Carlisle, who placed a shaking hand upon his distraught brow. Then the darling hoisted me aloft, kidnapping me.

Bella had her wicked way with me out in the middle of nowhere for the next 18 months, during which time she denied me any contact with the family. Even Alice was surprised when we eventually turned up at the house like a couple of scruffy, bad pennies. But we were welcomed home affectionately and re-assimilated into the household routine.

I loved my life. My status in the family was greatly enhanced, and the perks that went along with the position of husband were fantastic. Mr. Ed eventually learned to put Bella first, and she obviously appreciated his good manners.

As for Jane and Demetri, Carlisle pulled all their bits out of the machine, and left them on a nice tarp in the garage to reassemble themselves. The bits were too small for even a doctor to figure out. Carlisle went in a couple of times a day to lecture them on the foolhardiness of challenging the Cullen family, and the benefits of working in tandem for the benefit of immortals everywhere. A month later, he patted them on their bottoms and sent them home to Aro.

So life was good, everyone was happy, and the former drudgery of my existence never returned. The Cullen Clan stayed in Forks until 2008, before moving on to Peggy's Cove.

But that's another story.